Like ticks or radio commercials, snobs of any kind generally make life just a little bit harder. Take the wine snob: try to purchase a bottle of red to wash down a half decent pork chop and the wine snob is all over you, deriding your choice as, "flinty and gamelike," and then spending ten minutes or more trying to steer you to something a little more, "jammy and plump." Obviously, adult human beings should take great care to avoid using the words "jammy" and "plump" to describe our beverages. The fact that the wine snob either doesn't know this, or does and charges ahead anyway does not speak well of him. Not to mention the implied insult of his assuming I don't want my wine flinty and gamelike. As it happens, I'm partial to pinot noirs that have "hints of black powder rifle" with a "gray squirrel nose", thank you very much.
While the film comedy snob doesn't use the same jargon, preferring to throw around terms like "Hal Ashby" and "razor sharp satire," they do have their own Chateau Lafitte-Rothschilds and Petrus Pomerols. But while most comedy snobs do themselves tend to be jammy and plump, what are their favorite films? Let' take a look.
An ensemble period comedy starring Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Timothy Daly, Paul Reiser and Ruth Gordon as their horny orangutan sidekick (okay, I made that last one up),
is a snob comedy for which, I admit, over the years I've had a lot of affection. Then I watched it again.
And hey, it' not bad-though you do have to endure a scene in which Mickey Rourke tricks a girl into touching his, um, little Mickey by putting it through the bottom of a popcorn box out of which she is currently eating. Though such an event would not be out of place in a horror movie, it doesn't belong in a comedy, especially one that does not feature an explicit disclaimer warning that the viewer will be forced to envision Mickey Rourke' genitalia. (Since viewing it several weeks ago, I have not eaten and I expect that I never will again.)
The presence of Steve Guttenberg is, frankly, ominous. You can see by the look on his face that he fully intends to go on to star in
and Three Men and a Little Lady.
Being John Malkovich (1999)
I'll bet every screenwriter who has ever pitched an idea about a cop who is transported back to the time of Vikings, or an animal trainer who uses his Bengal tigers to steal 200 million in gold from Fort Knox, thinks, "Wait a minute — you tell me my idea isn't commercial enough, then you turn around and pour money into a movie about a guy who finds a portal into the head of actor John Malkovich? Eat me, Hollywood! Eat me so bad!" And who can blame them for inviting the entertainment elite to eat them? I for one extend the same invitation in solidarity.
Being John Malkovich
is one of a new breed of comedies-one whose goal is not to be enjoyable or make anyone laugh. Rather, they are meant to be enjoyed later, when the viewer-lying to his friends and co-workers-claims to have enjoyed the film, thereby conferring hipness and prestige.